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Show Guide: The Doll Maker's Gift

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It’s almost time for our next production, The Doll Maker’s Gift, a musical based on the book by Sashi Fridman.  We’ve assembled some special information to help you and your family to get ready for the upcoming performance. Before you go to the show, you might want to take a few moments to review this “Know Before You Go” Guide so everyone will know what to expect from the performance!

The Story You Will See
It is the early 1900s. Nora and her family live in a shtetl, a small Jewish community in Eastern Europe. Even though the Jewish people have lived in this neighborhood for a long time, things are changing and not for the better: a growing hatred for the Jewish people has lead to an increase in pogroms (violent mobs attacking Jewish people) and scary soldiers are now walking through the towns. Life is very dangerous for Nora’s family and for all of the Jewish people in Russia. But Nora is a bold and creative child with a very active imagination. She enjoys an active fantasy life playing with her
beloved dolls and her older sister, Rosa, even though Rosa is old enough to be very worried about the dangers around them. Throughout this troubling time, Nora’s favorite place is Zalushka’s Doll Shop, where her dreams and magical imagination are able to be free. However, conditions escalate as their relatives are attacked in a nearby village. The family’s only hope is to find a way to go to America, but the odds are against them due to the cost of the tickets. One family member must stay behind, so Zalushka and his wife, Pola, take in Nora until her family can buy her the last ticket. Will Nora be able to keep her hopes up during these trying times, and will Nora’s family be reunited in safety with the help of their caring neighbors?

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FEB 22 – MAR 10 | 75 minutes without an intermission | Historical Fiction Drama for AGES 8+
Know Before You Go
Here are some things your family might like to “Know Before You Go”:
    • The Doll Maker’s Gift is a work of historical fiction but it is based on very real historical circumstances. The story addresses heavy issues of anti-Semitic violence in the form of pogroms— violent mobs attacking Jewish people — that took place in Eastern Europe and Russia in the early twentieth century.
    • Throughout the story, imagery from Nora’s elaborate fantasy world involving her play with dolls comes to life on the stage. This is how she, as a young girl, makes sense of the sometimes scary world around her. Some dance numbers and music are meant to be intense or ominous, and this could be a bit scary to your child. They may also ask what is “real” and what is not.
    • Nora’s uncle and his family come for a visit and after they leave Nora and her family find out they have been killed. There is explicit talk of these deaths and others in the story, and you may want to be prepared to discuss these tragic events with your
    • As they are trying to make sense of the frightening problems in their shtetl, Nora and her older sister Rosa sometimes get into heated arguments. Some of their words are unkind and their fears are palpable. Some children may be upset by the intense situations.
      • There is some tension that builds in the story as to whether Nora’s family will safely escape to America and be reunited. The family separation and uncertainty could upset some young viewers.
    • It is mentioned how Zalushka and his wife, Pola, are unable to have children of their own. Your child may have some questions about this they want to discuss.

The Characters You Will Meet

    • Nora — a 9 year-old girl who has a bold spirit and a very active imagination. She has an active fantasy life and is not afraid to speak her mind even as the circumstances in her shtetl are getting more dangerous.
    • Rosa—Nora’s older sister who at almost 12 years-old is focused on growing up and letting go of childish ways. She understands more about the frightening changes they witness happening in their neighborhood and she gets impatient with Nora’s playful, naïve ways.
    • Papa (David)—Nora and Rosa’s father who wants to believe his family and their shtetl will weather these difficult times but is slowly realizing he must take action to protect his family even if it means leaving the home they have always known.
    • Mama (Esther)—Nora and Rosa’s mother who reads the signs around them and knows their family must flee their shtetl before it is too late. But money is scarce and she is troubled by the difficult decisions their family must make in this trouble time.
    • Zalushka—a kind and clever craftsman, Zalushka is “best doll maker in all of Europe” and keeps an upbeat spirit and gentle sense of humor even as he and his community face frightening circumstances. His generosity proves to be essential to Nora’s family.
      • David’s Brother and his family—after a visit to see Nora’s family, they return home where they are victims of the growing waves of violence against the Jewish people
    • The Dolls—Nora has a beautiful collection of dolls that, in her vibrant imagination, appear to come to life and help her make sense of the changing and sometimes distressing world around her.

From Story to Stage

    • Playwright Francis Sillau serves as the Accessibility Coordinator at the Omaha Theater Company here at the Rose and also serves as Artistic Director of Circle Theatre. He has a long, dedicated relation with the Rose Theater and passionately focuses on creating arts opportunities for everyone.
    • This musical is was adapted from the heartwarming and hope-inspiring story told in The Doll Maker’s Gift by Sashi Fridman, which was published in 2011. The book was brought to the attention of The Rose by Deborah Denenberg, who is one of the producers of the show. Ms. Denenberg has a long history of producing plays on Broadway, and we are honored to be working with her on The Doll Maker’s Gift.
    • Composer Brian Feinstein has received numerous awards and recognitions, including a Jonathan Larson Fellowship. He has received enthusiastic reviews of his creative work in The New York Times and his compositions have been performed by the Boston Pops and the Indianapolis Philharmonic.

Theater Location
The Rose is located in downtown Omaha at 2001 Farnam Street on the southwest corner of 20th & Farnam Streets.
From west Omaha, take I-80 East to 1-480 North and exit onto 20th Street. The Rose is located on Farnam Street, approximately three blocks south of the 20th Street exit.
Convenient Parking
The closest and most convenient parking is available for $2 in the garage at 19th & Harney, courtesy of the Omaha Douglas Public Building Commission (1910 Harney St., Omaha, NE 68102). Parking meters surrounding the theater are active from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with free parking available on Sundays and holidays. A variety of parking lots are available around the theater, as well, ranging in cost from $2-$5.

While at The Rose
Join Our Post-Performance Q&A Session!
A few minutes after the performance, our actors will conduct a Question & Answer session from the stage. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the scenery, costumes, special effects, and other aspects of the production. The actors may even have a question or two for you about the story.

Meet the Cast & Get an Autograph!
Some performers will be available after the show to say hello, pose in pictures, and sign their
autographs for you. You can meet them on the mezzanine level right outside the entrance to our balcony level seats.

Take Home a Souvenir!
The Rose Guild presents a souvenir stand before and after each performance offering a variety of fun and inexpensive show-related mementos. The proceeds help to support the great education programs at The Rose Theater!

The Rose Theater
2001 Farnam Street
Omaha, Nebraska 68102

Wait, There’s More!

Grab a Theater Class Brochure!

If you like what you saw on the stage and think you’d like to be a part of it, try taking a theater class here at The Rose Theater. We offer a wide range of arts classes for every interest and experience level.


Please visit our website to read director’s notes and view production photos.

Box Office Assistance

The Rose Box Office is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm at (402) 345-4849. Information and ticketing is also available online at the-rose.local.

Weather Cancellations
The Rose rarely cancels public performances. If severe weather requires a show to be cancelled, a notice will be placed on our website and on social media, and we will notify local media outlets. For weather-related inquiries, please contact the Box Office at (402) 345-4849. Should a show be cancelled, a recorded message will be left at this number.

The Rose Theater, 2001 Farnam Street, Omaha, NE 68102, United States
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